Story: Victoria, a young abandoned cat is taken under the wing of a feline tribe called the ‘Jellicles’. As the cats ready themselves for the Jellicles annual ball, the focus is on who among them will be chosen to transcend into a new life.
Review: Director Tom Hooper , whose earlier works include the 2012 Oscar winning musical ‘Les Miserables’, ‘The King’s Speech’ and ‘ The Danish Girl ’, serves up an odd mix with his latest offering, ‘Cats’. The film is an onscreen adaptation of Andrew Llyod Webber’s renowned musical by the same name and the poems from ‘Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats’ by T.S. Eliot.
While this cinematic version has an interesting casting line up with Judi Dench , Jennifer Hudson, Rebel Wilson , Taylor Swift and Idris Elba among others, there is something quite unsettling about watching them as cats on celluloid. And it has a lot to do with how their onscreen look has been crafted with digital fur technology.It’s almost as though the actors faces have been stuck on human bodies covered in fur, and add to that close ups with make-up, whiskers and all.
The story that runs up to a talent show of sorts for the Jellicle cats plays out in the course of one night on the streets of London.
The setting is fantastical with hues of pink, purple and blue taking over and as odd as the overall appearance of the cats may seem, there are flashes of some magical visuals that translate onscreen and the cat moves are quite elegant. There’s not much to the premise as a way of conflict except for Macavity (Idris Elba), the ginger cat who uses magic to get rid of anyone he sees as a potential threat to be chosen by Old Deuteronomy (Judi Dench) as the most deserving contestant to be sent to Heavyside Layer (feline heaven) and be reborn.
Of course, there are many set pieces of music, dance and choreographed cat moves-Rebel Wilson is Jennyanydots, a lazy tabby whose slapstick number could leave you scratching your head especially the bits with dancing cockroaches and small human faced mice. There’s also Mr.Mistoffelees (Laurie Davidson) who does magic tricks. Some of the take-away moments clearly belong to Shimbleshanks (Steven McRae) with his tap dancing and Bombalurina’s (Taylor Swift) dramatic entry on a crescent moon. Jennifer Hudson as Girzzabella belts out Memory, which turns out pretty good, except for the stream of snot down her nose which is distracting. There’s also a matter of proportion which goes very off-key in many of the scenes as the sizes of the cats keep changing in comparison to their surroundings.
With not much else to the story, as the minutes tick by clocking in almost two hours – 'Cats' comes off as a mix of bizarre and boring. This one is a ‘purr’-fect stretch to sit through, one could say.